East Valley school bond measure in doubt
A proposed tax bond measure to update East Valley School District buildings was up in the air Tuesday night, while results from other special elections showed most voters are willing to open their pocketbooks in support of school programs.
The $34.5 million construction bond – the third such attempt by the East Valley district – was leading by 59 votes after polls closed. An unknown number of ballots cast on the measure remained to be counted.
Although more than half of the votes counted were in favor of the measure, the bond would need to be approved by at least 60 percent of voters to pass the required supermajority.
The bond would upgrade five elementary schools and two middle schools, and improve computer technology throughout the district.
Other school districts and the Spokane Valley Fire District don’t need to wait for straggling ballots to celebrate. Most measures, requiring simple majorities to pass, were approved by wide margins of 60 percent or more.
East Valley’s three-year replacement levy, and levies for the West Valley, Central Valley, Freeman and Orchard Prairie school districts, were passing.
Voters also appeared to support a maintenance and operations levy for Spokane Valley Fire, which serves much of Spokane Valley. The three-year levy, passing 16,993 to 8,047, will cost $1.59 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The school levies, which account for 10 percent to 20 percent of a school district’s annual operating budget, are essential in funding textbooks, school nurses, counselors, librarians, extracurricular activities like sports, and other programs not funded through the state.
East Valley’s levy, which accounts for about 19 percent of the district’s annual operating budget, was passing 2,791 to 2,180. It replaces an existing levy of about $3.15 for each $1,000 of assessed value.
In West Valley, the results showed voters approving a three-year replacement levy 2,825 to 1,764. The measure ranges from $3.79 to $3.89 per of assessed value over that period. Also passing there was a separate technology projects levy designed to raise $500,000 per year for the next three years, adding between 25 cents and 27 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Central Valley supporters were gathered at the Dragon Inn on Tuesday night, celebrating an apparent victory.
The district asked voters to approve a 63-cent increase in levy rate per $1,000 assessed value to make up for a possible reduction in state funding. “It’s just an amazing show of support for our district in these economic times,” said Melanie Rose, CV district spokeswoman.
CV’s three-year replacement levy will cost $3.27 per $1,000 of assessed value. Voters were approving the measure 11,410 to 7,318.
A Freeman School District levy was passing 846 to 523. The three-year replacement would cost about $2.60 per $1,000 of assessed value. Orchard Prairie School District asked voters to approve a two-year replacement levy, which they were easily doing with 162 to 84 votes. The measure would cost homeowners $1.19 per $1,000 of value in 2010 and $1.25 in 2011.
About 5,000 ballots cast countywide will trickle in over the next few days, said Mike McLaughlin, Spokane County elections manager. Another count of ballots will be made today, and the election will be certified Feb. 18.